As football fans get ready for NFL's conference championship weekend to see which teams will compete in Super Bowl XLII in Arizona next month, homeland security and FBI officials have completed a threat assessment to help officials plan security for the event.
Although there is no credible threat information indicating an increased concern of attack in the United States, federal authorities have advised event planners and law enforcement to look for any signs of terrorist activity and to be vigilant.
The Super Bowl will be played Feb. 3 at the University of Phoenix stadium, with 73,000 people expected to attend. Given the high-profile nature of the Super Bowl, the FBI, Homeland Security Department and U.S. Secret Service have deployed additional resources to assist state and local police.
The threat assessment was sent out as a bulletin earlier this week and notes some vulnerabilities associated with the big game. It also points out that large crowds will be gathering in the week preceding the game for events throughout the city and region.
A homeland security official briefed on the report said there was no recent information to suggest a threat to the event but said that in the post-Sept. 11 world, "These types of reports are prepared for lots of major events."
The reason: They are seen as soft targets that would receive broad international media coverage if a terrorist assault occurred.
The document reminds state and local authorities about the importance of information sharing, particularly tips on any suspicious activity. Officials are asked to be on the lookout for truck bombs and to pay attention to break-ins and thefts.
In recent years, police have used virtually every security measure available for the Super Bowl, including surveillance cameras and facial recognition software, which has questionable effectiveness and has privacy advocates concerned.
In 2005, at Super Bowl XXXIX , sources tell ABC News, the FBI used National Security Letters to conduct database searches of hotel reservations and flight information into the Jacksonville, Fla., area to look for individuals on terrorist watch lists and databases.
Such tactics will probably be in play again, even though the new assessment says: "The intelligence community has not identified a credible threat to Super Bowl XLII and its related events."
It's the new normal.